Whoever said the Internet killed the video star was talking crap. If anything, the Internet has given birth to a new kind of video star: one you actively have to seek out, rather than wait passively for them to be beamed into your goggle box.
The perfect example is SSION, all-American dance-pop chanter and video director, and originator of the unibrow-meets-mustache hairdo. SSION, aka Cody Critcheloe, is creating a video for each track on his (brilliant) album Bent as an ongoing project, and we have featured his work numerous times here on DM.
The latest SSION video release is a clip to accompany the track “High,” a bonus song from the official Bent label re-release last year (and not on the original free download release from 2011.) It’s great, needless to say, especially if you have a fetish for karaoke videos, but I’ve still not managed to post about what is probably SSION’s best video yet, the clip to accompany the track “Luvbazaar.”
Lip syncing drag queens, gum-popping schoolgirls, empty theaters, heaving parties, New York city streets, shopping interludes, the return of platform desert boots, a Tarantino-esque glowing case, and a David Lynch-style appreciation of the absurd, it’s all here.
SSION’s website has had a revamp and is well worth visiting (and don’t forget to check out the clip for “High” too) but for now here’s the bizarrely beautiful “Luvbazaar”:
Surely you’ll know by now that we’re big fans of SSION at Dangerous Minds. The album Bent (which was originally released as a limited edition free download last year) was one of my favorites of 2011. It’s the kind of artful, emotional, electronic dance music that I always wished the Scissor Sisters sounded like, or that Madonna would make instead of chasing Lady Gaga’s crown.
Well, Bent has now been given the full, physical release treatment by Dovecote Records, and SSION are out on tour to promote it this autumn. That means they will soon be coming to a town near YOU and, godammit, I wish I lived in the States so I could catch one of these shows!
As someone whose music I greatly respect and admire, for the third Notes From The Niallist column I caught up with Cody Critcheloe (who, for all intents and purposes, is SSION), to ask him what he has in store for this tour, and how the album promotion is going:
The Niallist: You’ve stated that you plan on producing a video for each track on your album Bent - how is that going? Is there a narrative thread between these videos? I have noticed some slight stylistic similarities.
Cody Critcheloe: That is true, we’ve completed 5 of the 10 videos so far. We’re still waiting to release a few while we are on tour. The wait is killing me! Yes, there is a narrative thread between all of the videos… I’m not sure if everyone will pick up on it and i don’t know if it’s really important that they do… We will see, I guess.
TN: You put out Bent as a limited edition free download last year, and now it is being re-released physically. How do you feel the free download worked in your favor? Or did it?
CC: Well a lot of people are familiar with the songs, they come to shows and sing a long, and that’s cool. I think it worked in my favor for sure. I mean, do people even buy records anymore? i do sometimes but not like i did when i was a kid… I feel like things are on the uprise though, but then again I don’t have anything to compare it to. This is just they way it turned out.
TN: You put a lot of effort into your stage shows - what can we expect from Ssion on this tour? Any secrets you might be willing to give away?
CC: I think a lot of people have seen photos from shows we did 5 or 6 years ago and assume that they are going to get that, or they see the “Clown” video and think that’s who i am and what we do. That’s not the case. iId need some insane funding and the audience to put on shows that big! When we get the opportunity to do a lavish pop show I go all out, but when you’re touring in a van and sometimes playing to 100 people in a basement or dive bar you can’t really do that! And i actually sort of like stripping it down, i like forcing people to have to deal with it on a strictly musical level… For this tour it’s me and a live band, some visual elements but nothing really over the top. It doesn’t seem to bother people who come to the shows either. It’s still good. I’m a good performer and the band is tight. Also, we have House of Ladosha supporting us on the tour, they are my favorite band in NYC. Check them out!
TN: Who are your primary influences as a live performer? And musically and more generally, in terms of art and style which you poses a lot of, who has influenced you to do what you do?
CC: Courtney Love, The Cramps, Prince, Little Richard, Iggy Pop, Madonna, Queen, Sonic Youth, Darby Crash, the B-52s, and a lot more.
TN: Thanks, Cody!
Here’s the latest SSION video, an interview about the upcoming Live & Wet tour:
And here, for your diary, is the full SSION tour date schedule:
Hot on the heels of his last video opus, the magnificent “Earthquake” (which we posted about here), SSION, aka Cody Critcheloe, is back with another clip taken from last year’s excellent Bent long-player.
Both the music and the video styles are different this time round, with the slick dance-pop sounds of “Earthquake” and “My Love Grows In The Dark” eschewed in favor of a darker, electro-rock sound and a straight-to-camera performance. There’s hints of Suicide in here, and also 90s industrial music. SSION’s gender-bending edge remains intact though, with the particularly fine shortening of the Marshall amp logo to simply “Marsha”.
As Cody mentioned in his exclusive DM interview from the start of the year, he plans to make a video for every song on Bent, and it looks like he’s going to make that happen. He has already been teasing his fans with still from the video for the track “Psy-Chic”, possibly my favorite on the album, and there’s an open casting call for folks to star in the video for “Luvvbazaar”. But for now, we’ll just have to do with this:
SSION “Feelz Good (4-Evr)”
As I have mentioned numerous times on here, SSION’s Bent was one of my favorite albums of last year, and I actually included “Feelz Good (4-Evr)” on my Dangerous Minds round up of the best music from 2011. Here it is again for those that missed it:
I’m a big fan of SSION, but you should know that by now. SSION, aka songwriter, performer and music video director Cody Critcheloe, has just brought out the second video from last year’s dance-pop magnum opus Bent, and it’s killer.
A logical progression from its predecessor “My Love Grows In The Dark”, “Earthquake” sees an androgynous alien-boy moving through a landscape that is simultaneously pop-art bright and druggily disconnected. All the time SSION is beckoning him on, from his iPad, from his TV, from his four-by-four, all the way up to their final, honey-soaked encounter:
Last Friday I posted the new video from the band SSION called “My Love Grows in The Dark.” If you haven’t watched it yet, then go and do so right now. It’s a little bizarre and rather brilliant. The album that song is taken from, Bent, was available as a free download release for one month only last year, and it was one of my favorites. This year too in fact, as it is being given a physical re-release soon by the Dovecote label.
SSION, which has existed in various forms over the years, is essentially the brainchild of Cody Critcheloe. Cody is a visual artist and video director by day (he has directed clips for Peaches and Santigold) but by night he transforms into a gender-and-preconception bending performer whose live shows have been picking up a lot of acclaim. I spoke to Cody a short while back about SSION, and his decision to release such an excellent album for free. Here’s a little taster:
Bent is a great pop album. In fact, I’d say it is surprisingly great for a free download release. How did the idea to release it for free first come about?
I have always worked outside of labels, and the way it goes I’ll put out a record every four years. I’ll take a while to develop it and work out what I wanna do with it. At the time there’s wasn’t anyone anxious to put it out, so it seemed like the right thing to do. I thought if a label really wants to be a part of this they’ll figure out a way to go about this, because SSION is such a different kind of project. It seemed like a big FU to put it out and let people get it and listen to it, and I like the idea of people being able to get it, so people who aren’t even your fans can still get into it.
What has your fans’ reaction been to the download release?
It’s crazy ‘cos I think in the long term it’s gonna pay off. The shows we’ve played in New York have all been really amazing, and everyone knows the words to the songs already. It’s been instant, like this has already had an effect, an effect outside of any label being behind it to pump it up or publicize it. Everything that has happened to SSION is because of people who are genuinely interested and really into the music. I love the fact that there’s gonna be a physical release ‘cos I put a lot of work into the art work, but I could also take it or leave it. If it doesn’t work out I can still have a life. I still somehow survive off doing these things and other projects. I’m just into it as a very punk way of going about things.
But what about an effect on sales?
The thing about it is, the last record we had you can find it online for free, so why not make it available for everyone? And it’s crazy too because our other records are on iTunes and we still make money of them every month, even though people could easily get them for free.